If you make your living working in construction, mining or another industry where you frequently rely on scaffolding, or elevated, temporary work platforms, to perform your job duties, know that there are inherent risks involved in doing so. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 65 percent of all construction workers use scaffolding regularly, and this means that about 2.3 million are at risk of suffering scaffolding-related injuries or fatalities every year.
Just how do scaffolds endanger American workers?
How scaffolds lead to injury
Scaffolds can pose a threat to you if you work on top of them, but they can also place you in danger if you work near them. If you work in the vicinity of a scaffold, but not necessarily on top of it, you are still at risk of injury caused by falling tools, materials and debris. This proves particularly true if those working on the scaffold do not properly secure the equipment on top of the platform. A scaffold can also potentially crush you if it collapses while you are working under it, which can lead to serious injury and even death.
Working on top of scaffolding is also inherently dangerous. In addition to the obvious fall risk, which you can reduce to some degree by ensuring proper erection and wearing protective gear, you also run the risk of electrocution if your scaffold is too close to nearby power lines. Additionally, if a scaffold has to bear too much weight, or if it is otherwise unstable due to improper erection or what have you, you run the risk of having the platform collapse under your feet.
When employers fail to protect workers
If you commonly work on or around scaffolding at your place of business, your employer has a duty to do everything in his or her power to maximize safety. If you suspect that your employer is not following all recommended safety guidelines, consider filing a complaint with OSHA.